Friday, 4 January 2008

Book Review: Gingerbread Hunter by Kathryn Wehrle

Kathryn Wehrle's first piece of non-fiction is the story of her quest to find the best-tasting gingerbread in the whole of Toronto. Along the way she finds and befriends all sorts of different people, bringing them together under the tasty brown umbrella that is a good gingerbread.

The book takes the reader through the Toronto bakery world, from the upper class croissant houses of Yonge to the seedy sesame bun shacks that form the city's notorious backstreet baking underbelly. The chapters dealing with these latter parts of the quest are terrifying, especially when the author's taste testing is interrupted by a visit from the bakery's owner, the notorious crime lord Saffron Tumerick, head of the Danish Mafia.

Other elements of the story are uplifting, such as the chapter in which Kathryn manages to save a struggling patisserie by recommending them to a hungry passer-by; the man is none other than Richard Branson, and he invests huge sums of money in the bakery, rescuing it from bankruptcy. There are also hilariously funny scenes, such as the impromptu food fight in a tea shop populated by upper-class ladies, and the scene in which Kathryn finds a woman's toe in a gingerbread man. Her search for the toe's former owner took her to three different continents and started a friendship that would eventually lead to divorce.

But rather than the people, the star of Gingerbread Hunter is the gingerbread itself. Kathryn's description of each morsel alone is worth the price of the book. From the 'delapidated creosote bungalow smell' of an out-of-date coffeeshop pastry to the 'smarmy self-confident sneer' of Guutenborg's $3,000-a-piece luxury gingerbread, Wehrle's prose makes each mouthful of biscuit real.

All in all, I would give this book five icing sugar buttons out of five.

1 comment:

Mart said...

I find this funnier now I know the real Kat Wehrle!